Emphasize the "What's In It For Me" Before Mandating Microsoft Teams Usage

So why did I put such a non-business photo at the top of this business post? It’s because non-work activities such as the subject of the photo may be what your employees are most interested in, and why you must use WIIFM to get them to buy into Teams (or any collaboration improvement) from the start.

WIIFM, or “what’s in it for me”, is the magic potion to get employees fired up about the change required to move from email to Teams chats, and then to all the other great benefits of Teams. The efficiency of Teams by itself is enough reason to mandate usage of the app, but it’s always best to try to gain voluntary buy-in prior to mandating change that may be unwanted.

Your employees may not care as much about results and efficiency as you do, especially if you are the leader of first-line workers or individual contributors. Perhaps they are task-masters and are accustomed to just putting their heads down, getting the work done, and going home to whatever they’d rather be doing, such as visiting the pub down the street after office hours.

Even if you are the leader of highly motivated individuals or departments, most of those people do not relish change. They have a system that gets the work done and new changes just get in their way. As their leader, it is in your best interest to get the most results with the least amount of waste and that is why you’re interested in implementing Microsoft Teams.

As I emphasized in last week’s post "How You Can Eliminate All Internal Email Next Week", you MUST mandate a complete move to Teams for collaboration within your team. Your goal is to 1) eliminate all email within your staff, and 2) radically decrease the time and effort spent looking for information. If only one person does not use Teams, you will experience failures because that person will be out of the loop.

Rolling out Teams is easy, but your employees do not know that yet. They need more incentive. The best way to incentivize them is to emphasize the WIIFM of Teams and there is much about Teams that will make them embrace the change. Following are ten WIIFM reasons to change:

  1. Moving all internal conversations to Teams will eliminate internal staff email altogether while making past conversations much easier to mine for information (time and effort saved).
  2. The Teams interface serves as a hub for the many Office 365 apps; they will no longer be required to minimize one app to maximize another once you have customized your Teams interface (reduced clicks and decision fatigue).
  3. Teams was built for mobile functionality; the mobile app works much the same as the desktop app (ability to be more mobile, remote).
  4. Communications do not have to be physically moved into subject matter folders as do emails; communications are separated into “channels” of subject matter from the beginning (reduced decision fatigue, saved time and effort).
  5. Communications are not silo-ed into separate threads like emails and do not require employees to click into, and out of, individual email threads. Communications contribute to institutional knowledge rather than being hidden in personal, silo-ed emails (reduced time and effort digging for information).
  6. Recipients do not have to actively manage communications. They simply read the items, and if desired, click the bookmark icon to make them quickly recoverable (reduced time, effort, and decision fatigue).
  7. There is only one version of the truth, rather than many parallel and duplicate emails (fewer embarrassing errors).
  8. Outdated versions of files (attachments) become a thing of the past because the single updated versions of files are always front and center (reduced decision fatigue and errors).
  9. “Tabs” at the tops of each channel enable one-click access to important files and other apps, further eliminating the need for employees to click into, and out of, many apps (reduced time, effort, and decision fatigue).
  10. The “Like” functionality (similar to the functionality on most social media apps) saves time and email burden because it eliminates the need to send “Thank you”, “You’re welcome” and “I’ve read this” emails (reduced time, effort, and decision fatigue).

While all of these ten reasons are enough to get most people to embrace the change, there is one somewhat common concern that you must be ready to deal with, however.

Because you cannot eliminate all organizational email and external email (perhaps you only control your staff), someone may push back because they’ll have to look in both Outlook and Teams for communications.

That is a reasonable concern, but it’s not enough to avoid rolling out Teams and here’s why. Teams runs in the background just like Skype currently does. (Microsoft has even announced that Teams will be replacing Skype in the near future.) Employees do not have to open Teams to check it; it will already be running and Teams will notify employees with whatever level of notification the employees choose (pop-up notifications or small red badges in the toolbar).

Still, it does require two applications for what was formerly handled by one. It is important to emphasize that the net time and effort required to communicate and find information will radically decrease over time as more and more information/communications are placed there. As other departments begin using Teams, the increasing number of Teams (especially cross-functional ones) will further reduce effort and email.

One organization of 26 employees that we assisted this month - after piloting Teams for the leadership group - plans to eliminate all organizational email within the next couple of weeks. This means the only emails they will deal with will be those from external clients and suppliers. Teams will be used for internal collaboration and Outlook will be used for external collaboration.

The important point is that the net amount of time and effort will decrease over time. You might even remind them how many times they currently switch back and forth between all the social apps and email apps on their own personal mobile devices. People are used to checking multiple apps these days!

I think the ten WIIFM items above, and the promise of a net decrease of time and effort, will be enough to get your entire team on-board. If however, someone is still not convinced, you must put on your big person britches and require the change anyway. Your entire team must participate or you will fail. I’ve yet to see a workgroup fail when the leader mandates usage. If you mandate, you will succeed.

I’ll cover the step-by-step process for rolling Teams out during your two-hour staff meeting in the next post.

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